Right now, there’s a good chance a new hire will start their job working remotely. What are the best practices for providing comprehensive onboarding in the era of remote work?
Even in an uncertain economy, companies are still hiring. And when they do, there’s a good chance the new hire will start their job working remotely.
Until now, remote work has been more of a perk than a regular work model. Unsurprisingly, many companies struggle with providing an onboarding experience for someone who can’t visit the office, pop over to a colleague’s desk with questions, or go out to lunch with their new teammates.
But onboarding — or rather, successful onboarding — is critical to business success.
Onboarding is the first step toward employee retention. A report from Glassdoor states retention rates can improve 82 percent with a high-performing onboarding strategy. And that’s not the only way onboarding affects the bottom line.
According to Boston Consulting Group, a company with effective onboarding practices achieves 2.5 times more revenue growth and 1.9 times the profit margin.
So, what are the best practices for providing comprehensive onboarding for new hires in the era of remote work?
Your onboarding strategy begins when the employee accepts the offer, not on the employee’s first day. Use that time to make sure your new hire has a seamless remote experience.
1. They need more than technology
Your first step should be to figure out what the employee needs to get their job done. Obviously, you must provision the technology and applications they need, but don’t forget about low-tech items. If they need office supplies, send them along with the technology. If their at-home workplace sounds inadequate, investigate the company’s willingness to help with any improvements that need to be made, like ergonomic furniture or partitions. And don’t forget the company swag!
2. Delivery or curbside pickup
When it comes time to deliver the goods, take the same approach as modern restaurants: delivery or curbside pickup. Obviously, if the new hire is not near the office, delivery is your only option. If they can stop by, however, provide time slots for pickup so they interact with as few people as possible.
3. Start before the first day
Don’t be afraid of getting the new hire acquainted with the company and its culture early, just as they do at development firm Adeva. Before their first day, maybe they can join the team’s messaging channel or familiarize themselves with technology tools they’ll be using. Set them up with a mentor and have them connect ahead of time.
The First Week
4. Remote access and control
IT confusion is inevitable. Every business uses different tools and settings to get the job done, and a new hire won’t understand all of them. Many times, a videoconferencing call is all it takes to get going, but other tasks are more intensive.
This is where remote access and control can save a lot of time and frustration. Instead of having to walk the new hire through connecting cloud accounts, establishing a VPN connection, or configuring two-factor authentication over the phone, your IT admin help guide the new hire in using the company’s tools effectively.
5. Virtual welcome lunch
Just as you would have in the office, organize a virtual welcome lunch so everyone can get to know the new teammate. To enjoy the full experience, have lunch delivered to everyone and share an actual meal together, virtually.
6. Loop in key people
Team building across the company is also important, so introduce the new hire to a few other key people. Try to get an executive or long-time employee to tell the story of the company. Get a product or sales rep to explain what it is the company does/makes. And if someone who once had the new hire’s position has grown within the company, have them share their experience about progressing within the organization. This helps new hires feel as though they will be an integral part of the company’s success.
Training and Learning
7. Sharing screens and collaboration
In a remote onboarding process, interactive learning may be a challenge, but it’s far from impossible. Solutions that offer the ability to share screens and collaborate in real-time are crucial to provide the new hire a hands-on experience. Non-interactive videos may be good for background information, but they’re no substitute for new hires getting their hands (digitally) dirty with tools and environments you will expect them to master, eventually. Don’t be afraid to experiment. People learn in different ways.
8. 30/60/90-day plan
Learning doesn’t stop after the first week or two. Set aside some time to establish and discuss a 30/60/90-day plan with the new hire that reflects the current situation, and the established onboarding procedure of the company. What will be the expectations at each milestone? How does the new hire need to develop their skills during these timeframes? A “map” for these early days can ease a lot of confusion about how the new hire should spend their time.
9. Stay live and face-to-face
Schedule as many face-to-face video trainings as possible. It can be tempting to just send a remote new hire some videos and check in with them once a week, but the best way for them to assimilate into the company is to meet as many people as possible.
Moving Beyond 2020
The companies that take what they learn during this challenging time and apply it to their business operations moving forward stand to gain a competitive advantage. Remote onboarding could be one of those lessons.
With an established remote onboarding process, companies can find that it’s easier to bring someone aboard virtually. Once you figure out the logistics (provisioning and digital training), it’s handy for the new hire to work at their own pace with the ability to reach out to anyone else in the company, no matter where they live.
At TeamViewer, we’ve been fortunate enough to grow substantially this year. This has forced us to look at our onboarding process and retool it not only for remote work, but also to increase its scale. What we’ve found is that onboarding still has the same goals of rich learning experiences and culture-building no matter where it takes place and it’s flexible, knowledge people willing to try new things that make the difference.